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NerdWallet’s Best Chase Credit Cards of 2019

Feb. 1, 2019
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Chase has consistently high sign-up bonuses and rewards rates. It has no-annual-fee options, cards with standout sign-up bonuses for travelers, plus a valuable and flexible rewards program. But which Chase card is the right one for you? Here are NerdWallet’s picks among Chase cards for value and usability.

» MORE: Chase Ultimate Rewards: How to earn and use them

Best for travel

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • A large bonus
    • No foreign transaction fee
    • Cool factor - metal card
    • Earn more points on travel and dining at restaurants
    • Premium travel protection benefits

    Cons

    • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, after that $95 per year

    Annual Fees

    $0 for the first year, then $95

    APR

    • APR: 18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 27.24%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
    • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
    • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
    • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
    • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

✭ 2019 NERDWALLET AWARD WINNER: Best bonus category travel rewards card

Why we like it

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is among the best travel credit cards available anywhere. It earns elevated rewards and boasts a large sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Your points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase’s booking tool.

Pros and cons

Pros: Earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Airfare, hotels, cruises, taxis, rental cars and train tickets are all categorized as travel purchases. Consistent with all Chase rewards cards, you can earn unlimited points, and the points don’t expire. You can transfer points to several frequent traveler programs at a 1:1 rate. There’s also no foreign transaction fee — always a perk for world travelers.

Cons: The card has an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95. There is no introductory 0% APR period.

» MORE: Full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Best for cash back

Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now on Chase's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No annual fee
    • 5% rewards on rotating categories
    • Access to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards site to earn more cash back

    Cons

    • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better
    • A foreign transaction fee

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 17.24% - 25.99% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 27.24%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months
  • Additional Information
    • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
    • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
    • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
    • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
    • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
    • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
    • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
    • No annual fee

Why we like it

The Chase Freedom® is an ideal card for everyday spending: versatile, rewarding and widely accepted. It’s a solid first card, next card, backup card — anytime card.

Pros and cons

Pros: The Chase Freedom® offers elevated rewards, a $0 annual fee and a solid sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Planning to carry or transfer a balance? You can also benefit from its introductory 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 17.24% - 25.99% Variable APR. You’ll get 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories, up to $1,500 spending per quarter, and 1% back on everything else. Activation is required. Here’s the current bonus category list:

Chase Freedom® bonus rewards categories for 2019
Q1 (Jan. 1 - March 31)Gas stations, tolls and drugstores
Q2 (April 1 - June 30)"Spring" — TBD
(In 2018: Grocery stores, PayPal, Chase Pay)
Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)"Summer" — TBD
(In 2018: Gas stations, Lyft, Walgreens)
Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)"Holiday" — TBD
(In 2018: Department stores, wholesale clubs, Chase Pay)

Cons: A rotating-bonus-category card can require some work; you’ll have to keep track of the categories and make sure you opt in each quarter. And unlike its more premium companions (the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve®), the Chase Ultimate Rewards® points you earn with the Chase Freedom® are worth only 1 cent apiece, no matter how you redeem. The 3% foreign transaction fee makes this a less-than-ideal travel companion.

» MORE: Full review of the Chase Freedom®

Best for premium travel perks

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Apply Now on Chase's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 720
    850
    Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • A large bonus
    • High rewards rate
    • High value benefits
    • Cool factor - metal card
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • High annual fee
    • Needs excellent credit

    Annual Fees

    $450

    APR

    • APR: 19.24% - 26.24% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 27.24%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
    • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
    • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
    • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
    • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
    • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
    • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
    • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

Why we like it

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers the most potentially valuable sign-up bonus of the bunch: Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® . Your points are worth 50% more when you redeem for travel through Chase’s booking tool. You’ll also have access to a slew of travel benefits.

Pros and cons

Pros: Earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining and travel purchases, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. The card offers a $300 reimbursement each year for travel purchases. There are other perks for frequent travelers as well: You’ll be reimbursed for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, you can transfer points to travel partners at a 1:1 ratio, and there are no foreign transaction fees. You’ll also get access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide with a complimentary membership to Priority Pass Select.

Cons: The $450 annual fee isn’t something to take lightly. If you travel often, the annual $300 travel credit can offset the annual fee considerably. Infrequent travelers may want a card more in line with their spending.

» MORE: Full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®